Best Mexican Restaurant

Siete Luminarias

To say Cherokee Street west of Jefferson Avenue is the epicenter of traditional Mexican street fare in St. Louis is, of course, to speak the truth. But it also does a disservice to a restaurant such as Siete Luminarias. Here you could visit a dozen times before you got around to ordering a plain old taco. And why would you order a taco when there are dishes as intriguing as the pambazo, a version of the classic torta sandwich in which the bread is lightly soaked in a guajillo chile sauce? The sauce gives the fillings — your choice of meat (steak, chorizo, chicken, pork skin) with pinto beans, potatoes, carrots, lettuce and crema — an earthy backbone and a decisive kick. The tlacoyo is another worthy choice, a moist, flavorful masa cake topped with meat and vegetables. Goat dishes are available on weekends; to satisfy your carne craving any day of the week, order the carnitas "Guanajuato-style," among the most succulent representations of that long-simmered-in-its-own-fat, quickly fried pork dish in town. Guanajuato has special meaning for owners and brothers Ramón and Luís García — it's their home state. The name "Siete Luminarias" is a nod to the Valle de Santiago, a region known thereabouts as El País de las Siete Luminarias (The Land of the Seven Lamps), for the volcanic craters clustered there. Oh, and when you finally do get around to ordering a taco: They're outstanding; none better than the tender, richly flavored cabeza, made with meat from the head of a steer.

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